Groupama is a business that offers health, house and motor insurance. It provides a range of commercial products for small to medium UK business.
Based in Letchworth, Herefordshire, Groupama Healthcare is part the Groupama Group that is an international instance provider. Groupapa Healthcare is also the 8th largest health insurer in the UK that carters for the business community offering private medical insurance cover. For 2010 and 2009, they were winners of ‘Best Group PMI Provider’ at the Cover Excellence Awards and ‘Best for Customer Service’ at the Health Insurance Awards and were a finalist for five other awards.
What is customer service?
Customer service is a businesses ability to supply their customers with their wants and needs. This involves putting schemes in place to enable customer satisfaction because sales and profitability depends on the business customers being happy. Factors contribute to customers satisfaction:
1. If the product matches customers needs
2. Value for money
3. Efficiency and reliability of orders
4. Professionalism and expertise of employees
Groupama Healthcare works with variety of customer both internal and external customers. Such as, hospitals, brokers, employees, businesses and general people who need medical cover.
Groupama Healthcare has found a niche in the market that is small to medium business consisting of 30-50 employees. This is because they do not have the resources for bigger business. They provide their services to smaller businesses because the profit margin is bigger when selling too small to medium business than selling to big business. Therefore, they can charge a higher price for health insurance. For example, in a big business because there are more employees more people would make claims and Groupama would have resources to pay out the claims for this degree business. Moreover, because bigger health insurers such as Bupa offer their services to bigger business it has left a gap in the market for Groupama to target small the medium business.
An external customer would be people who are sick or injured and are claiming insurance to pay services to enable them reach a full recovery. First, the customer would have to contact Groupama Healthcare by calling the claims help line or using the website. They would be asked questions about their claim to see if the claim in authentic and then contact to the customers GP to check the information given is accurate.
Other external customers are the employees that work within the business who want healthcare insurance. Their external customers would be external brokers who sell healthcare packages to business. For example, they find out how many people work for the business and see if employees in the business would like healthcare insurance from the provider their selling
One of the internal customers of Groupama Healthcare would be internal brokers. These brokers work for Groupama. The brokers would go to places like medical events where business would look at other business to see how it can benefit their business. Therefore, the brokers go there to promote and share what services Groupama Healthcare has to offer.
The employees working for Groupama would an internal customer because they are working within the business. The healthcare is offered to the employees.
Groupamas’ main competitors would be Bupa and Alliance Healthcare. Groupama cannot compete with Bupa product or price that is why they aim the product and service at small to medium business.
1. Customer service
Although Groupama healthcare cannot compete against the price and product, what makes them stand out in there excellent customer service.
3.1 Customer service polices
As an insurance company, Groupama Healthcare would need policies and procedures when dealing with a customer. For example, when someone call up to get a quote they would need to find out whether the customer is eligible for insurance, whether the claims are genuine by contacting the clients GP or hospital and calculating how much insurance that is need to be paid. They would need to do this quickly and efficiently as possible but also consistently. Without this customers would get frustrated and are more likely to move to a rival competitor.
It is important that the employees know everything about the product in detail. Therefore, when a customer asks a question they are able to a clear and detailed answer. For example, the value, how the product should be used and what products work well to gather. Without this knowledge, it is difficult to sell to a customer. It is beneficial for employees to know the product because they will become more confident and comfortable in providing the correct information.
This decreases the risk of any mishap in the future of the procedure. They would also have to know who to ask if they do not know the answer. Most importantly, employees should not lie to their clients about the company’s products because later on the customers will realize for themselves. This could have impact on the business because they could receive negative publicity and could have impact on whether the customer will use the business again, which is unlikely.
At Groupama Healthcare they make sure the employees acquire the knowledge though formal training where they learn about how Groupama works. They like employing new employees rather that someone from a different organisation because they are more likely to use Groupama’s methods in doing things.
3.3 Sensitive customer needs
It is essential that they are sensitive to a diverse customer needs. It’s important for an employee to know how to deal and conduct themselves towards a customer. They healthcare sector is a sensitive issue and customers expect staff to be sensitive to their needs. This can include being polite, friendly and understanding. To cover sensitive issues Groupama employees nurses to deal such cases. This is beneficial because nurses that the experience dealing with such cases. It would also be more rewarding and comfortable to talk to someone who has knowledge and practice.
3.4 Being proactive
It is essential to be responsive to customer enquiries and know where to get answers if they do not know them. Being proactive the customers feels as if they are being listened to and important. If a customer has an enquiry and it takes a long time to answer it, the customer may get infuriated and angry. By not being proactive, it can irritate the customer and can lead them to use a different business.
3.5 Taking responsibility
Customers expect that whoever is dealing with them have a matter of responsibility to see through the process to ensure customer satisfaction. In addition, if a claims they can do something, it is their responsibility to keep to their word. For instance, Groupama Healthcare says that it takes up to 9 days for them to turn over a quote and it is their responsibility to keep to that. Moreover, because they do not have face to face, employees have a responsibility to be polite, helpful and informative etc, on the phone. Employee should be aware of their customers and as well as corporate responsibilities to ensure customer satisfaction. By doing this business are more likely to have repeat customers and help the business gain a good reputation.
3.6 Recognising customer rights
Every business must follow the Unfair Trading Act 2008. Which outlines that business should be honest with their customers. For example, business should be truthful and honest about their product. For Groupama they would have to honest about their policies and procedures. If Groupama does not do this they would be breaking the law, which can result in huge fines. Furthermore, customers would feel frustrate and cheated on, this can result to loss of customers and negative reputation which can be devastating for a business.
1. Effective customer service benefits
4.1 Attracting new customers
A business that has good quality products and publicity is more likely to attract new customers. But for Groupama Healthcare the main factor when attracting new customers and retain customers is outstanding customer service. It believes that “There is not a Product or Price that cannot be beaten-Service is the difference. Groupama has 3 features that enable them to attract and retain customers:
Price: It is more likely that business with lowest price is likely to attract more customers because people are always trying to save money. However, business should not focus on price to attract customers because there is always a business out there that will beat it.
Product: Just as with price is not worthwhile for a business to focus on their product because with innovating technology, business can improve their product more and more. Also, in the insurance market business offer close to the same product which makes it hard to standout from competitors.
Quality: The quality of delivery is important for Groupama because they cannot compete with product of price. It is essential for Groupama Healthcare to offer a superior product against their competitors. They are more likely to have a higher quality of product those large companies such as Bupa because they have a smaller amount of clients. Therefore, there is less workload so they can put more effort into offering excellent customer service. This is an advantage because it decreases the amount of complaints and lessens the chance of getting negative publicity.
Service: If business focus on their product or price other sectors of their business could suffer such as customer service such as speed of delivery. It’s important very important that a business like Groupama Healthcare is quick, efficient and make the customers their first priority. Customer service takes countless years to build and develop unlike price and product. However Groupama have found a balance with price, product and service enabling them to attract and retain customers. The graph to the left shows that Groupama retains it at least 80% of their customers.
4.2 Reducing complaints and negative feedback
When a customer is dissatisfied with customer service, they are likely to make a complaint. In the case of Groupama Healthcare, a compliant could be due to the way a customer’s was treated or the lack of quality and speed of the product. For example, Groupama Healthcare states that is take 9 day to turn over a quote. If Groupama does not fulfil that, customers could get irritated and could eventually make a compliant.
For a business, dealing with customer complaints can be expensive by the means that some customers may want compensation. It is also very time consuming. Additionally the business will build up a negative reputation, which can lead to bad publicity and can be damaging for the business, making it hard to attract new customers.
Groupama reduces the number of complaints they res by striving to continually improve their customer service. For example, not just providing good products but providing the consistently. By doing this, it enables them to attract new customers and help raise their profile.
1. Customer service policies and practices
5.1 Customer expectations
Businesses provide customer service to enable them to meet the needs of their customers. For an awarding winning insurance company such as Groupama Healthcare their customers would expect the highest standard of customer service because they expect them to live up to those awards.
Groupama customer’s needs could be practical requirements. They would expect employee to have knowledge in the products so when someone calls up to ask a question about a product, customers services would be able them a correct and in depth information about things such as, the value, how the product is used and how long it would take to turn over a quote. Moreover, a customer would expect that employees should be cooperative, respectful and understanding of their needs. By doing this they can trust and relationship with the customer which makes the process for the customer more comfortable and worthwhile. This is valuable because the customer is likely to use the service again. Another customer expectation would be to be consistent with delivery. For example, if the delivery is quick but the quality is bad the customer would just an angry is the delivery was slow. This is why it’s important to maintain consistency and speedy delivery.
5.2 Aims objectives and ethos of organisation
In a business or organisation, they would have aim or objectives for customer service. Groupama’s aim is under their customer service strategy that is “Deliver consistent customer service excellence in every encounter (internal and external)”. In order to achieve this, employees must understand the meaning of service excellence and how to implement it. Groupama have set up objectives to achieve service excellence.
Clear responsibilities: This means that every employee should have a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities required for their position in a business. For example, to know what is expected of them. Groupama Healthcare set business every month, individual and team targets. In 2011, Groupama achieved over their targets expect for august 2011. Without clarity of the role, employee’s performance will be affected. So understanding responsibilities is essential in business.
Be prepared to go the extra mile: It is important for employees to Developing the habit of going the extra mile for customers. This entails providing service beyond your customers’ expectations. This could mean working after hours. Going the extra mile enhances customer loyalty, increases sales, and promotes positive word-of-mouth advertising within the marketplace.
Don’t stand still: This means for employees that if there is a technology problem they should not just do nothing but take matters into their own hands and find out ways to be able to contact their customers. This shows to clients that the business cars and values its customers and even if there is a problem customers are more likely to say with the business.
Teamwork: In any job that you are most likely to be working in am team. It is said that people who work in teams are more efficient and well organised. Good working relationships and communication skills are vital components for a successful business and a fundamental part of team working. Groupama Healthcare has objectives that they believe are essential for effective team work:
1. Common goal or vision
1. Good leadership
Furthermore, Groupama Healthcare also has a competency framework detailing the behaviours that Groupama demonstrates when encountering customers and employees alike. This is to ensure they deliver their Customer Service Strategy. The competency framework consists of:
Delivery: They are committed to delivering results to the highest standard. For a company like Groupama, because it is not a market leader they strive to achieve excellent customer service, which makes them standout. For Groupama it’s mainly not about the speed of delivery but the quality and consistency. This is more likely the attract customers and help retain.
Agility: Being agile in a business is about to adapt rapidly and cost efficiently in response to changes. It can be maintained by adapting goods and services to meet customer demands or adjusting to the changes in a business environment. This can mean keeping up technology or retracting. Being agile is beneficial to the business it can allow them to keep ahead of their competitors.
Our customers: They are focused on going the extra mile for all their customers (internal and external). A business like Groupama deals with many customers. It is fundamental that they do not just meet customer expectation but doing a bit more to achieve exceptional customer service. This shows they care about their customers and therefore clients feel valued. This is an advantage because they are more likely to get repeat customers and good publicity. Without showing, they care about their customers to lead to a bad reputation and it will be harder to attract new customers.
Respect: No matter what background they are from, whether there a new member or the lowest paid member of the team. It is important that you develop trust and it is important to treat all the team members with the same level of respect.
Responsibility: Groupama Healthcare takes a responsibility for their actions and concerns themselves with understanding the organisation they work in. This means taking responsibility for ensuring they keep to their word about how long to takes to turn over a quote, being considerate and respectful to customers and being truthful about their products.
Self-development: They demonstrate a commitment by improving and expanding skills, knowledge, performance and behaviour of their employees. Exercises such as team building can help improve communication and develop trust. In addition, training enables employees to develop their skills and gain experience in their fielding of working. The more experience the quality and speed of the product is increased therefore better customer service. With self-development, employees are unable to find their weakness or develop their strengths. This could cause poorly motivated employees which will affect the customer service.
If this frame work in carried out appropriately this will increase the standard of customer’s service and reduce complaints and negative feedback therefore attracting new customers because they have received good publicity.
1. Improvements for Groupama Healthcare
Despite Groupama’s award winning and successful customer service, there are areas which can be improved. For example Groupama always operate over the phone. An advantage of this is that it’s more cost effective, efficient and quicker for the business and its customers because clients don’t have to make the journey to the business. However, some customers may prefer meeting face to face especially for sensitive issues and it’s easier to explain processes such as procedures they go they go through to make sure a claim is genuine. They are also more likely to develop and relationship between the client and their as reduced chance of their being any mishap to confusion in the process. This will be beneficial to Groupama because customers would be more likely to stay with the business.
1. Benefits of customer service
For four years Groupama has been recognised for its excellent customer service. In 2011 they have been winners of Best customer service Health Insurance 3rd year running, On-line intermediary service – Health Insurance and Cover Award for Best Service. By winning these awards helps Groupama continually attracts customers by word of mouth and they get a high level of repeat customers. Being bathed in awards and very high customer retention rate of 80% due to excellent customer service is obviously a benefit for Groupamam Healthcare. With having a high number of repeat customers and new customers is always beneficial for a business because it mean then can make a profit.